After a failed attempt to be verified by the card readers on Saturday morning for the Presidential and National Assembly elections, President Goodluck Jonathan at last cast his vote at 3.10pm at his polling unit 039, Otuabula Ward 13, Ogbia Local Government Area, Bayelsa State.
In an interview with reporters after casting his ballot, Jonathan who described the process as “free, fair and extremely credible”, said: “Yes, I am hopeful I will win”.
The president noted that though the card readers were problematic, they would make the election process credible and acceptable to the international community.
“Somehow, there may be issues like people staying longer than necessary on the queue.
“Even though we have to stay for 24 hours, it is for the sake of the country”, he said.
He said he was not in a position to hold Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) responsible for the failure of some of the card readers, adding that the commission was capable of taking responsibility for its action.
According to him, the Federal Government operates a system in which every Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had their functions well cut-out for them.
On reports that bombs exploded in parts of Enugu during the voting, Jonathan said the state governor, Sullivan Chime, had dismissed it as a false alarm.
He said Chime told him on the phone that it was suspected that a vehicle was conveying improvised explosive devices (IEDs), but was later discovered to be false.
Jonathan said the Enugu State governor was categorical that no bombs went off in the state.
Meanwhile, the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd), has commended INEC over the handling of the voter verification exercise in the Saturday’s elections.
Buhari, who arrived at Kofa Baru 3 polling unit at 8.38am in company of his wife, Aishat, in a convoy manned by security men, successfully went through the verification exercise.
He and his wife spent less than six minutes in getting through the process.
Speaking with newsmen at the end of the exercise, Buhari commended INEC for doing a good job.
”I like the integrity of the system.
”If people are allowed to vote, rigging will actually be an impossible in this system”, he said.
On the timeliness of electoral officials at polling unit, Buhari said: “I think INEC has done very well and I have said it to my colleagues elsewhere that from their presentation to the Council of State which I happen to be one of the members, INEC this time has done extremely well.”
However, accreditation of voters commenced at about 8.25am at Kofa Baru 3 polling units where Buhari was accredited.
Separate queues were formed for women and men in accordance with the custom of the people that forbids open mix of women and men.
The accreditation process was a bit delayed as the people initially refused to be accredited as they were waiting for Buhari to do so before them, but the polling officials told them the essence of time in the whole process.
The elderly men were the first set of people to be accredited, while the women covered in full Hijab waited patiently on their separate queue.
Buhari made his appearance at the voting venue at about 8.38 with the people raining prayers on him as he made his way to the polling unit.
There were no untoward incidents at the polling unit.
However, at Kofa Arewa 2 polling unit, the smart card rejected some fingerprints, even as the identity of the holders were verified through the Permanent Voter Cards (PVCs).
The INEC officials on duty told Sunday Independent that the smart card actually verified the PVC and the biodata of the card holders, but some of the fingerprints of the holders were not easily verified by the smart card.
Incident forms, he said, would be used to rectify the situation.